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Personality and Eating Disorders; Anorexia People; Bulimia People

Abstract: People with eating disorders often have low self-esteem, low self-awareness, are prone to extremes, have a need to avoid monotonity.

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Personality and Eating Disorders; Anorexia People; Bulimia People

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Question(s): 
Written by:
  1. Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at "Malatesta Novello" nursing home in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail: and Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
  2. Gunborg Palme, legitimerad psykolog, legitimerad psykoterapeut, lärare och handledare i psykoterapi.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 05 Aug 2008.

Have anorexia people and bulimia people certain personality traits common in eating disorders people?

Answer:

There are specific personality traits common to eating disorder patients. These features, therefore, are considered individual vulnerability factors by eating disorder experts. These factors make its carriers more prone to developing an eating disorder than other people.

This means that a person with these personality traits who grows up in a social and cultural environment that emphasizes slimness, will seek refuge in a diet when compelled to tackle existential difficulties, and embark on a path that will lead to developing an eating disorder.

We can therefore say that people will risk developing an eating disorder if:

  • they have low self-esteem
  • they have no trust in themselves or in other people
  • they have low self-awareness
  • they are too much of a perfectionist
  • they are is prone to extremes
  • they never accept half-measures
  • they have impulsive or obsessive behaviour, want to avoid monotony
  • they are prone to attach too much importance to weight and body fitness.

When people with three or more of these personality traits begin a strict diet, they run the risk of transforming the diet and its results in such a way as to increase their self-esteem and their self concept so that it appears to be easier to control weight than other life aspects, but in this way they will develop an eating disorder.

Some of these personality traits also increase the risk of other so-called "addictive" disorders, such as alcoholism and drug addiction.

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